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Cotton News

August 25, 2023

Welcome to the August 25, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

September Expected to Bring Average Rainfall; Above Average Temps

Generally, September is a wetter month for the High Plains region, and for the cotton that is still holding on, every bit of precipitation counts. 

KLBK Chief Meteorologist Jacob Riley presented the 2023 harvest weather outlook — specifically for the months of September through November — for the Plains Cotton Advisory Group today (Aug. 25, 2023).  “We will be focusing on temperature and precipitation trends,” he said at the beginning of the meeting, “As well as looking at how the drought will continue to progress around eastern New Mexico and West Texas.”

Riley presented Lubbock rainfall statistics showing Lubbock’s month-to-date rainfall at 0.07 inches. Average precipitation (data from 1911-2022) in September is 2.52 inches. Riley said that this September, the Lubbock area is projected to receive average rainfall, based off the forecast from the Climate Prediction Center. 

Average precipitation for September through November in the city of Lubbock, based off data from 1911 to 2022, is 5.17 inches. “We’re still going to see a warmer and dryer weather pattern throughout this growing season, but we are hopeful that El Nino’s system will bring a wetter growing season for 2024.” 

“September temperatures look to be around 77 to 80 degrees, which is slightly above the average of 77,” Riley said. “This will likely feature highs in the mid-90s with lows in the mid- to upper-60s.” 

The average temperature during the September through November time frame is roughly 61 degrees, also based off of data in the Lubbock area from 1913 to 2022. 

Based off the Climate Prediction Center forecast for temperature, the High Plains is looking at a range of 69 to 74 degrees from September to November. 

To sum up, Riley said that persistent dry and warm conditions will continue to influence our overall pattern, though bouts of cooler air and rain are expected. 

“As Earth’s tilt continues to change as we head into fall, we will start seeing more apparent pattern changes,” he said. “I believe we will undergo a more drastic change after harvest season as we head into winter. A cooler and wetter than usual winter is likely to begin late December into early January, hopefully replenishing ground moisture by the beginning of our growing season in 2024.” 

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The Cotton Board Approves 2024 Budget

Full Article Published by Cotton Grower here.

The Cotton Board members serving the Cotton Research and Promotion Program reviewed and voted to recommend Cotton Incorporated’s 2024 budget of $89 million to the Secretary of Agriculture — a $2 million increase from 2023.

“The 2024 Cotton Incorporated plan and budget remain focused on addressing several key industry issues to increase cotton’s market share and ensure long-term profitability,” said Cotton Inc. President and CEO Berrye Worsham. “Key priorities include enhancing supply chain transparency and cotton’s traceability, increasing producer profitability, enhancing cottonseed’s value, addressing contamination issues and using marketing to build demand for cotton.”

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August 18, 2023

Welcome to the August 18, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Fight for the Farm Bill

The August recess has allowed opportunities for producers and the cotton industry to discuss priorities and challenges with their elected officials. 

On August 16, a Farm Bill listening session, hosted by West Texas A&M University, was held in Canyon, Texas, where many cotton industry representatives gathered to provide Reps. Ronny Jackson and Jodey Arrington with their priorities for strong farm policy regarding the 2023 Farm Bill. 

PCG President Martin Stoerner, presented PCG’s priorities for the Farm Bill emphasizing the need to increase reference prices to reflect cost of production and to enhance crop insurance to further mitigate risk and alleviate the need for future ad hoc disaster assistance. Additionally, PCG supports abolishing the prohibition of a producer’s ability to participate in the Stacked Income Protection Program (STAX) and the Price Loss Coverage program (PLC).  

“Due to the elevated input costs we are now experiencing, the reference price is no longer as effective as when it was initially set,” Stoerner added.

Curtis Stewart, manager of Spade Cooperative Gin, Inc. communicated the need for infrastructure support. 

“Long-term assistance for infrastructure in the form of affordable insurance or intermittent disaster assistance for cotton gins, warehouse, merchants and other downstream industry is needed to help weather the woes of Mother Nature, which is outside our control.” 

Rep. Ronny Jackson, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, joined Arrington the next day in Lubbock for a Farm Bill Roundtable. Complementary to Martin Stoerner’s testimony at the Farm Bill listening session, producer and President of RPCG Sutton Page of Avoca, Texas joined PCG at the Lubbock roundtable and reemphasized cotton’s main priorities for the next Farm Bill. In response to the current prohibition of combining STAX insurance with PLC, Jackson said, “I have five top priorities that I’m pushing for in the Farm Bill this year. And the possibility to combine STAX with PLC is one of them.” 

Brady Raindl, director of USA Purchasing for ECOM USA and American Cotton Shippers Association (ASCA) director, emphasized the merchant/farmer partnership and encouraged both congressmen to remember the hardships of growing a cotton crop in West Texas. 

“As a merchandiser, farmers aren’t just customers to me,” Raindl said. “They’re my partner. ASCA supports an expanded safety net for producers, increasing the current reference price, and focusing on stronger risk management tools like crop insurance and measures to ensure healthy and financially robust markets. And as we consider increasing the safety net, we believe that it’s important to modernize the Marketing Assistance Loan Program to ensure that cotton can move into the marketplace in an orderly fashion without incurring unnecessary cost to stakeholders or government support programs.”

In his closing remarks, Arrington emphasized the need for program integrity across the board, including farm programs. And both Arrington and Jackson highlighted the fight that will happen for upcoming farm policy and how both are willing to ‘go to bat’ for an effective Farm Bill.  

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Plains Ginners Association Annual Meeting

The Plains Ginners Association annual meeting is scheduled for August 21 at the FiberMax Center for Discovery starting at 8 am.

The speaker lineup consists of Steve Friskup, owner/auctioneer of Clovis Horse Sales, Clint Kriehbel, Ph.D., TTU Davis College Dean; Darren Hudson, Ph.D., will provide an economic report; and Gary Adams, NCC President and CEO will provide a Washington D.C. update.

Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the meeting and a golf tournament that afternoon. Sign up for the golf tournament here. 

Questions? Call the office: 806-792-4904.

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Current Pest and Crop Conditions

By Kerry Siders, IPM Agent for Cochran, Lamb and Hockley Counties

Cotton ranges from just starting to bloom to hard cut-out (0 nodes above white flower). Ideally, cotton will be blooming out-the-top by now, because we have reached that point when the odds of a bloom developing into a quality/yield contributing harvestable boll will drop considerably over the next few days. In fact, producers have probably noticed fields beginning to shed squares and some small bolls this week. This is a normal process of the plant making a final adjustment in what the plant can naturally hold and mature out. Though, producers should make sure that this fruit shed is natural and not induced by some insect like worms or Lygus. I have seen a few bollworm eggs around, but, between heat and beneficial insects and spiders, I am not finding any larva. I can still find a few cotton aphids as well and whiteflies. Most of these aphids are few and far between mostly due to the same beneficials working on the worms.

I would encourage producers to continue scouting for a few more weeks. By September 1 most cotton acres should have well over 400 heat units accumulated since reaching more than five nodes above white flower stage (August 5). This gauge of time tells us that a crop is safe from most insect damage.

Here of late, questions about irrigation have been more prominent. I will admit I get conservative with irrigation as we move into the last days of August and would rather err on the side of being too dry than too wet going into September. However, as hot and dry as we have been for the last four to six weeks, I am encouraging most to stay with the irrigation as long as is feasible. We have already had our chance of making quantity, now it is a matter of achieving quality through maturity. The last bolls set during this time need to be relatively stress free for 20 days (approximately September 8). So, if the plant recovers quickly from any wilting during a 90+ degree day then those last bolls formed should mature properly. Forty to 45 days after the last harvestable boll is formed (approximately September 30), the plant can nearly go into permanent wilt without impacting yield or quality.

So, bottom line, I am encouraging producers to stay with the water for another 10 to 14 days at least.

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August 11, 2023

Welcome to the August 11, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.


Correction: in the “Cotton News” newsletter sent out Friday, August 11, it said Texas Upland cotton yield was projected to be 773 pounds per acre. That number should have been 517 for Texas yield, as 773 pounds pertains to the U.S. estimate. We apologize for the confusion.

Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour Visits West Texas

One of the greatest things about fulfilling the promotion pillar of the Plains Cotton Growers mission is the knowledge that there is humanity in everyone. We have ideas of agencies and organizations, but rarely understand the people behind them until we exchange viewpoints.

The Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour brought 11 individuals — nine from the Environmental Protection Agency, one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Pest Management — to West Texas to learn more about cotton production here, specifically chemical application and needs of the producers in this area.

There were seven stops made on the High Plains leg of the tour. Click on the tabs below to learn more.

First Stop: PCG Office - Texas Cotton Production and Research Conducted on the Texas High Plains

FIRST STOP: Plains Cotton Growers Inc.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent provides an overview of cotton production on the Texas High Plains. The group was very interested in learning more about planting decisions and treated seed. Lubbock County Producer Rex Kennedy was able to give them an idea of what goes into these decisions from a business owner standpoint by explaining the technology in the seed has increased the value. “Decisions are made differently now,” he added. “We used to plant per pound and now we plant by plant population, which influences our economic decisions.

“Technology gives us better yields, no doubt; but there is a cost to that.”

Jane Dever, Ph.D., cotton breeding geneticist and professor/researcher for Texas A&M University AgriLife provided an overview of the research conducted to better meet the needs of producers in this climate. The group was able to see a variety developed by Dever on Jeremy Brown’s farm the following day.

Second Stop: Burt Heinrich Farm

SECOND STOP: Heinrich Farms

Lubbock County Producer Burt Heinrich provided an overview of drip irrigation. When it comes to spraying pesticides, he mentioned he’d rather not spray insecticide at all. “I want to protect my ladies (ladybugs, beneficials), so we work hard to prevent any need to spray. If the beneficials take care of it, we don’t have to.”

Heinrich also discussed the challenges of urban sprawl and farming. “Having a bug war in the city doesn’t work,” he added.

Heinrich explains drip irrigation to the Cotton Foundation Educational Outreach Tour participants.

Third Stop: Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area

THIRD STOP: Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved acceptance of land donation to create the new 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Cochran, Terry and Yoakum counties in 2014. Today the acreage is closer to 16,000. The WMA’s mission is to provide refuge for the threatened lesser prairie chicken and other native grassland birds and wildlife.

The WMA adds two to three solar wells per year. The goal is to have one water source per mile to keep uniform grazing when using livestock on the land. While walking on the land, the group found a hog-nosed snake. Some admired from up close and some stayed a safe distance away!

Kelton Mote, Yoakum Dunes WMA biologist, gave some opening remarks on the refuge site. “One thing we know about lesser prairie chickens is they don’t like vertical structure so we try to keep mesquite trees out of the land and we do manage shin oak in this area as well so it doesn’t get too tall.” When asked why the lesser prairie chicken doesn’t like vertical structure, Mote said, “We believe it’s because of predators like the raptor. Anytime they see something taller than four feet, they think it’s a raptor roost.”

He also said the lesser prairie chicken, like other ground nesting birds, has a shorter life span than other birds. Eggs are easily taken out of nests when there is a drought. “These birds need cover, so when it’s really dry, they don’t have what they need to survive.”

From chick to adult, the lesser prairie chicken lasts about six months, Mote added, making it harder to keep population numbers up. But more than anything, this bird is heavily affected by drought.

In 2021, Mote counted 100 lesser prairie chickens on the WMA. In 2022, after a very dry year, he counted 50. This year was the same. “We’re optimistic because we’ve maintained that number for two years with really dry seasons — we haven’t lost more from 2022 to 2023.”


Fourth Stop: Jeremy Brown Farm

FOURTH STOP: Jeremy Brown Farm in Dawson County

Brown showed the group one of his wide-row, irrigated organic cotton farms. “You’ll actually find the majority of organic cotton produced in this region because of our climate,” he said.

Brown uses shallow tillage to help control weeds and the only fertilizer he uses are from livestock when they graze the land. “I am a big believer in soil health and regenerative farming. I want to take care of the land God has blessed me with,” Brown said.

Fifth Stop: Shawn Holladay Farm in Dawson County

FIFTH STOP: Shawn Holladay’s Farm in Dawson County

To illustrate responsible herbicide application, Holladay took the group to a conventional cotton field surrounded by dicamba-traited cotton. He had sprayed right up to the conventional rows and didn’t kill the non-dicamba cotton.

Just about every producer the group visited with on this leg of the tour stressed the fact that they didn’t want to spray fields for weeds or pests if they didn’t have to. “That’s money out of my profit,” said Shawn Holladay. “If I have to spray, I want to make sure that all conditions are right otherwise I’m throwing money away.”

Sixth Stop: Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin

SIXTH STOP: Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin

To further illustrate cotton production in the area, the tour stopped at Meadow Farmers Co-op Gin where manager Dan Jackson walked them through the ginning process.

Seventh Stop: Bayer Lubbock Texas Cottonseed Manufacturing Site

SEVENTH STOP: Bayer Lubbock Texas Cottonseed Manufacturing Site

As closing remarks were made before the group got back on the bus to head toward Sweetwater for the next leg of their tour, they were grateful for the producers and organization leadership who answered many questions over the last couple of days.

“We greatly appreciate you taking time away from your family and colleagues to come and learn about West Texas cotton production. We welcome your questions,” said Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. “We’re happy to answer as many as you want to ask. We may not always agree on the solutions to the questions that you are tasked with addressing as agency officials; however, we will always be an honest resource with you and never shy away from the conversation and how we can create solutions together.”

Farm Bill Listening Session Scheduled in Canyon

Congressman Jackson and Arrington would like to officially invite you to participate in a farm bill listening session in Canyon, Texas. With the farm bill deadline quickly approaching, this listening session will give you and your members the opportunity to discuss your priorities for this year’s farm bill.

The listening session details:

WHEN: Wednesday, August 16 from 5-6:30 PM

WHERE: West Texas A&M Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion (600 WTAMU Dr. Canyon, TX 79015)

RSVP: Please call the office at 806-792-4904 if you’d like to RSVP to the event.

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WTACI Schedules 71st Annual Meeting

The West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute will host their annual conference on Thursday, September 14, at the Scottish Rite Event Center, located at 1101 70th Street in Lubbock.

This year represents the 71st meeting of WTACI, an unincorporated organization of dealers, industry representatives, agricultural producers, scientists, educators, and agribusiness members who support education and research programs promoting safe and effective use of agricultural chemicals and protection and preservation of the area’s natural resources.

Topics to be discussed at the conference include:

  • Weed control in herbicide-tolerant sorghum;
  • New chemistries for weed and brush control in range and pasture;
  • Endangered Species Act overview;
  • Beltwide cotton IPM research focus;
  • Semi-arid Agricultural Systems Institute research update; and
  • Australia cotton production overview compared to West Texas cotton production.

A total of 7 Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) CEUs will be available.

Pre-registration is available online. On-line registration fees are $75 for conference attendees and must be completed by September 8. Booth fees start at $300. On-site registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. the day of the conference and will cost $95 for attendees and $325 for booth sponsors. Lunch will be provided as part of the registration fee. 

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August 4, 2023

Welcome to the August 4, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Pictured (left to right): Mauricio Ulloa, Ph.D., USDA-ARS Research Geneticist; Zabardast Buriev, Ph.D., Academy Sciences of Uzbekistan Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics Director; Bunyod Mamarakhimov, Ph.D., Tashkent State Agarian University Center for Cotton Seed Production Director; Lloyd Arthur, Crosby County producer; David Arthur, Lloyd’s son; Shukhrat Otajonov, Ph.D., Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Department Head; Shodmon Namozov, Ph.D., Research Institute of Breeding, Seed Production and Agricultural Technology of Cotton Cultivation Director. Not pictured: Sherbek Ibragimov, Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Expert.

Uzbekistan Delegation Tours Crosby County Farm

While Uzbekistan is different than West Texas in terms of structure, history and climate, farming isn’t.

“It’s funny how just talking farming, we can all face the same challenges regardless of geographic location,” said Lloyd Arthur, Crosby County producer. “They have some challenges we don’t, obviously, and vice versa, but at the end of the day farmers can find common ground with other farmers no matter where any of us come from.” 

Uzbekistan has an arid climate similar to West Texas; however, it typically doesn’t get hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer with colder winters. Before USSR was dissolved in 1991, 100% of Uzbekistan crops were cotton. Today it’s 80%. 

Most of Uzbekistan cotton is hand picked. The supply chain is “in-house” in their country, as harvested cotton is processed, milled and spun all within Uzbekistan. 

“They do have more water than we do — most of it is flood irrigation,” added Arthur. “I showed them my drip irrigation and how we have to conserve water out here in West Texas.” 

The Uzbekistan delegation was brought out to our part of the world by Mauricio Ulloa, Ph.D., research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), who has been collaborating with Uzbekistan since 2007.

The Uzbekistan delegation gifted Lloyd Arthur with tokens from their country.


ARS partners with the Uzbekistan Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics on cooperative research projects to control and identify resistance to the highly contagious Fusarium wilt pathogen, which threatens cotton production in both countries. The partnership also includes work identifying and developing resilient gerplasm to plant stress and diseases.

“While I have been in collaboration with most of these men for many years, this was their first time to come visit,” Ulloa said. “It was a great experience to be able to show them cotton in this part of the world. We appreciate Lloyd for showing us his farm, farm equipment, and sharing his farming practices with us.” 

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2023 Crop Outlook Better Than Last Year

Last August, PCG predicted 60% to 70% abandonment in the High Plains region for the 2022 crop. Turns out, the estimate was conservative as the actual percentage was just shy of 80%. 

Producers experienced a better start to the season for the 2023 crop, as much needed rainfall was received in the area. While some of the rain was problematic, most everyone agrees they would rather have rain than not, regardless of when it decides to come. 

Many PCG counties were able to get a crop up this year, different than last year, but another rain is needed to keep it going. 

Most of the northern Panhandle counties lost their cotton to poorly timed precipitation and storms, but with a good rain, the southern High Plains could see a much better dryland crop than last year. Even so, PCG is predicting a 35% to 40% abandonment for 2023.

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Pest Pressure Increase

The 2023 crop has seen more insect pressure than was present last year. However, the balance of beneficial bugs to pests has these IPM agents feeling optimistic.

Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties
According to IPM agent Kerry Siders, small clusters of three- and five-colony aphids are present in fields. For now, the beneficials (spiders, etc) are taking care of them. 

“But it wouldn’t take much to tip the scales in the aphid’s favor,” he added. “The wrong selection of insecticide could remove your beneficials, too, so make sure what you’re using is specific to aphids.” 

Gaines County
The beneficial pest population is “phenomenal this year,” according to IPM agent Keegan McCollum. 

“Our organic fields have had some Lygus problems,” he added. “And we have had some fields sprayed for stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs.” 

Bailey, Castro and Parmer Counties
“We’re on the lookout for boll worms this month as we have a couple of full moons coming,” said IPM agent John Thobe. “These full moons may increase the flight pattern, so we’re getting ready for that possibility.” 

Hale and Swisher Counties
IPM agent Blayne Reed noted that his fields have seen quite a few boll worm eggs recently and some worms have already hatched out, yet not quite at threshold. “While the beneficial populations are good, there is a lot going on in fields right now and we need to be alert.”

To listen to the High Plains IPM Podcast, click here.

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July 28, 2023

Welcome to the July 28, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Cotton field in Idalou, Texas. Photo taken July 21, 2023.

The Only Certainty This Crop Year

From plowed up cotton fields to neighboring crops that look like ‘the Garden of Eden,” the only certainty regarding this year’s crop is that there is none.

Cotton field in Spearman, Texas. Photo taken on July 20, 2023.

“As you travel through PCG counties, you can find pretty much whatever you want to find,” added Plains Cotton Growers Director of Field Services Mark Brown. “We’re still not sure what’s going to happen this crop year.” 

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 12, has some people scratching their heads given the conditions seen in PCG’s region. 

While the July report did reduce planted acreage nationwide from 11.26 million planted acres to 11.09 million estimated planted acres, Darren Newton, cotton trader for Viterra, believes this to be too high. 

“Personally, I think our planted acres have been ill defined up to this point, so the August Farm Service Agency certified acreage report is going to be important this year,” Newton said. “However, the National Agricultural Statistics Service won’t use that data until the September crop production report and that should give us a clearer picture and more accurate projection.” 

The High Plains is not the only region facing uncertainty, which could affect projections further into the season.

“Last week I was out in Arizona and I have never seen as much cotton blooming out the top there at this time of the year before,” said BASF Western Region Agronomic Manager Kenny Melton.

Goanna Ag Vice President of Commercial Research and Development Paxton Peyton added that areas near Altus, Oklahoma, are really dry and just don’t have enough water to finish their crop out.

As has been said time and again, conditions across the High Plains are a mixed bag — some counties are faring better than others.

If there is any remaining cotton in the northern Panhandle, it’s behind and weather beaten. The picture on the right of the field in Spearman was the only cotton Brown has seen of late when traveling in that area.

Cotton field north of Dumas, Texas. Photo taken on July 20, 2023.

Floyd, Hale and Swisher Counties
Floyd County may be considered one of the bright spots of the High Plains. “It seems a little better there,” Melton said. “Some of the irrigated cotton there was planted late, but most is progressing well and looks good.” 

Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Hale and Swisher Counties said Hale County is down in terms of potential production, but Swisher is ‘not down as much.’

“We’ve got some good looking cotton in Swisher,” he added.  

Howard, Martin and Midland Counties

While some areas in the High Plains received rainfall in July, Howard, Martin and Midland Counties did not. “It’s really unfortunate because they actually had a crop up and things were looking pretty good there,” Brown said. “But they didn’t receive any moisture this month.” 

As to how this crop year will work out, only time will tell. 

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Don’t Delay Fertilizer Applications

In his newsletter this week, Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties, emphasized the importance of fertilizer applications by the end of July.

According to Siders, two things happen with late fertilizer applications on cotton. First, cotton maturity can be delayed. Second, aphids love this late excessive nitrogen.

“Producers should be vigilant in scouting fields for pests as many of them are applying fertilizer right now,” Siders said. “I occasionally see a cotton aphid, but beneficial insects and spider numbers are very good.”

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The Roller Coaster Ride of a Speculative Market

Wednesday, July 26th saw an uptick in the market price, the highest since March at 88 cents. However, the export report released the following day by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service showed a net negative in sales. With more cancellations than purchases, it looks like we took one step forward Wednesday then two steps backward Thursday. 

Darren Newton, cotton trader for Viterra, said this is how a speculative market behaves and even when the price begins to run up, it’s going to be hard to maintain without demand. 

“I’ve said it over and over again, but better demand needs to show up to build confidence in seeing higher prices” he added. “Supply helps but demand has to be there.”  

Newton emphasized the need to stay on top of the market as a producer. As was the case this week, you may only have one day to make a decision with how volatile the market has been.

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July 21, 2023

Welcome to the July 21, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Bright Spots in High Plains Crop Conditions: ‘Just Need a Rain’

Jon Jones, producer in Floyd County, “Our dryland is a little late, but we had a phenomenal rain this weekend. We’re thankful for it.”

As the Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Board of Directors made their introductions at the start of the meeting on July 19th, it became clear that crop conditions are all over the map in the PCG region.

While PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown reported major losses (an estimated 70% of acres) in the northern Panhandle area due to heavy rains and storms during planting, most of the southern High Plains would be doing well if it rained soon. 

Both Lubbock County producer Dahlen Hancock and Dawson County producer Julie Holladay agreed that the irrigated cotton in their respective areas looks really good, even “pretty darn fabulous,” said Holladay. While Hancock added, “There have been a lot of guys work hard to make a crop this year and have put effort and inputs into it — fertilizer on dryland — so we’re optimistic but it needs to rain pretty quick.”   

R.N. Hopper, Hale County producer, noted that while the crop is slightly behind schedule, it looks good with good rains and no flooding, while Lubbock County producer Scott Harmon agreed.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent provided an update on PCG’s strategy for the 2023 Farm Bill legislation, Brady Raindl, cotton trader for ECOM provided a marketing report, while Hale County producer Steve Olson provided insight into global agricultural practices. 

“We’re blessed to farm in the U.S.,” Olson said. “and we should do all we can to pay that forward.”   

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USDA-NASS Publishes Annual Cotton Review Report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service published its Annual Cotton Review report July 20, 2023. 

Final 2022 Upland Cotton production for Texas was estimated at 3.06 million 480-pound bales, down 60% from 2021. The average yield was estimated at 734 pounds per acre, up 68 pounds from last year. 

Acres harvested were estimated at 2 million, down 3.55 million acres from the previous year.

Final 2022 Upland Cotton production for the United States was estimated at 14.0 million 480-pound bales, down 19% from the previous year. The U.S. average yield for Upland Cotton was estimated at 942 pounds per acre, up 129 pounds from 2021. Harvested area was estimated at 7.13 million acres, down 29.7% from the 2021 harvested acreage of 10.1 million.


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July 17, 2023

Welcome to the July 17, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

PCG President Martin Stoerner discusses production challenges at the West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

“Agriculture is a very high risk, high dollar enterprise,” said Kody Carson, past chairman of National Sorghum Producers. “Our farm bill budget is two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. budget. But if that’s too much to ask to feed underserved children and underserved individuals in the U.S., then we might ought to look at our priorities a little bit differently. Farmers aren’t asking for a handout. We’re asking for a level playing field in the world markets and in our trade negotiations so that we are viable to take care of the U.S. people that we love and believe in.”

The West Texas Farm Bill Roundtable with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was held Monday, July 17, at the FiberMax Center for Discovery in Lubbock, Texas.

PCG CEO Kody Bessent, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and PCG President Martin Stoerner.

Moderated by Tom Sell of Combest, Sell & Associates, agricultural industry groups representing research and education, cotton, corn, dairy, sorghum and wheat, gathered to voice their concerns and needs to the Texas Senator.

While there were several cotton producers at the table, solely representing cotton were Kevin Brinkley, president and CEO of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and Martin Stoerner, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. President. 

Discussion from all participants centered on the challenges of doing business as an agricultural producer, yet much appreciation was shown the Senator for his support of the industry and his recognition of the differences in geographic areas. 

“We need to make sure that West Texas is heard in Washington,” Cornyn added. “It’s very different farming here than it would be in Iowa or Michigan. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works with legislation like the Farm Bill, which encompasses a diverse array of products, practices and landscapes.” 

At the conclusion of the roundtable discussion, a press conference was held where reporters asked Cornyn about Farm Bill status and challenges with the legislation. 

He said it was most probable that a Farm Bill would not be passed by the end of September, but rather extended toward the end of the year. 

“That doesn’t mean the work will stop,” he added. “The committees just need a little more time to write an effective bill to help our farm families.” 

He also noted that working across the aisle takes time, but that the bipartisan nature of the Farm Bill is what makes it effective. Cornyn said he understands and believes the Farm Bill to be of the highest priority to ensure our nation’s farmers and ranchers are able to feed and clothe the world while also staying in business. 

“We appreciate the Senator for supporting us as he has done for so long and coming here today to listen to what we need,” Stoerner said. “We were able to have a good discussion with Sen. Cornyn in Washington D.C. back in April and know he is a viable ally for cotton and all of agriculture in Congress.” 

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Crop Scan Ag Report with Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties

This report was originally published by Cotton Grower

Cotton ranges from 7 to 14 true leaves with square set/retention averaging a good +85%. I am just now starting to see first bloom in the more advanced fields. Generally, it will be after July 20 before we see cotton beginning to bloom, if not later in a good majority.

Our last effective bloom date (the date on which we can say with a high percent chance that a bloom will result in a harvestable boll) ranges from August 10-15, from Morton to Ropesville. So, if you do not begin to bloom until August 1, this gives you about 12 days of good bloom period, or time for about four first position bolls to be formed. In that scenario, yield is limited.

A field which begins to bloom on July 15 has about a 28-day effective bloom period, which can result in ~9 first position bolls. This is not counting second or possibly third positions in either case.

Cotton insect pests remain quiet. In the IPM Scouting Program, I have noted only a handful of adult fleahoppers. To date, none of these infestations have reached a threshold to justify treatment. Weeds continue to be the most dominant pest currently. A long-varied list of weed species is noted throughout the area, with Palmer amaranth still at the top. Remember, these weeds serve as host to many of our crop pests.

Another cotton issue that I am seeing and am concerned about as we move into another very hot period is heavy wheat stubble which served a great purpose back a few weeks ago as protection from the various elements, mostly wind. Now, however, it can be a detriment to the cotton since intact stubble can wick moisture from the soil.

I would encourage you to somehow break or sever that stem/straw from the roots. Using a sweep or knife to undercut this will help, or I have even seen stalk chopper units moved into the row middle and used to lay that stubble down, breaking that continuum of straw and roots and limiting the wicking effect.

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July 7, 2023

Welcome to the July 7, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Property Tax Relief Legislation Breakdown

On June 27, 2023, Gov. Greg Abbott called a second extraordinary session of the 88th Texas Legislature to convene to consider and act upon two items:

  • Legislation to cut property tax rates solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate to provide lasting property tax relief for Texas taxpayers; and
  • Legislation to put Texas on a pathway to eliminating school district maintenance and operations property taxes. 

In response to the called extraordinary session, both the Senate and House have filed and acted upon their respective bill versions through Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1. Currently SB1 is now awaiting action by the House and HB1 is awaiting action by the Senate to resolve differences between the two bills. 

Based on information received, the comparison chart below shows the two bill versions side-by-side and their approaches to addressing the Governor’s action items.

Source: Legislative Budget Board

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2022 Final County Yields Announced; STAX and SCO Payments Going Out

Following announcement of final 2022 county yields for Upland cotton on June 22, 2023, the USDA Risk Management Agency has begun sending final indemnity payments to Upland cotton producers who purchased 2022 crop year Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) or Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) policies. For most of Texas the combination of below average yields and Upland cotton harvest prices set the stage for both SCO and STAX payments to be triggered in most counties.

Looking specifically at 2022 STAX policies purchased in PCG’s service area, all of PCG’s member counties triggered STAX indemnities at some level. The amount of loss across the region varied significantly. Several counties in the northern part of the High Plains triggered less than maximum payments, while other counties triggered maximum payments for both irrigated and dryland practices.

Reviewing the counties individually shows three High Plains counties (Potter, Roberts and Carson) that triggered STAX payments at less than maximum levels for both irrigated and dryland acres. Four other High Plains counties (Deaf Smith, Hutchinson, Moore and Oldham) triggered a maximum payment for non-irrigated cotton, but less than the maximum payment for the irrigated practice. One county (Gray) triggered a maximum irrigated STAX indemnity, but less than a maximum payment on non-irrigated acres.

Click on the chart below to download a PDF version.

*Maximum payments calculated using x1.2 Protection Factor

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June 30, 2023

Welcome to the June 30, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Let’s Talk Mental Health in Agriculture

By Kara Bishop

June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month. So I could write an article on mental health with research-backed findings on suicide rates among farmers. I could write about why farmers’ mental health is now a concern that’s gained traction in the health care industry. I could include tips and tricks to proactively maintain a healthy mental state. 

But the truth is, I wouldn’t want to read that, and you probably don’t either.

If you’re a farmer or work in the ag industry at all, you don’t need to be told why the mental struggle is real. It’s not a surprise to many of us in this industry why this is a topic the health care industry has been increasing its efforts toward. 

Mental toughness only goes so far when you’re staring at a plummeting market price. It only goes so far when the land you care so much about hasn’t seen rain in 18 months. It only goes so far when the tools you need to do your job well increase in price by 150% to 300% — and no one’s there to take care of your overhead because you own the business. Mental strength doesn’t fix an ever-increasing inflation rate or interest rates at the bank — you already have a risky business on paper, let’s add inflation to it with bottom-of-the-barrel prices. 

And I think the main problem with all of these problems is the fact that they are totally outside of the farmer’s control. The farmer doesn’t dictate the weather or set the commodity price. The farmer doesn’t control the economy, nor can he or she solely lower the risk of the operation. 

Plus, every year is different. Even good years come with challenges that add to the uncertainty of the current crop or next year’s crop. 

Last year was a bleak one for the Texas High Plains cotton industry. This year, while we’ve had some rain, is still a mixed bag. It’s hard to watch a $1.40 price in May 2022 dwindle to 79 cents in June 2023. It’s hard to watch a much-needed rain come with tragic tornadoes and baseball-size hail. And I haven’t even mentioned labor.

It’s just hard. But it’s not new. 

I was talking to a farmer last year, back when prices were in the $1.40 range. He said it was hard to find motivation to start planting and ‘get going,’ because it was so dry. He didn’t think he would be able to make a crop, which was depressing in light of the best prices seen in decades. As he’s going through all of the challenges his operation was facing, I literally asked, “So, what keeps you from jumping off of a bridge?” 

And his response was something that the health care gurus don’t really talk about. 

“Yeah, it’s hard, OK?” he said. “But to make it through every year, a farmer has to be grounded in their faith — hard.” 

Faith. That isn’t a popular topic when addressing mental health on a clinical level. And I’m not knocking clinical help or medication. We all deserve to be the best versions of ourselves, and counseling and medication are excellent tools when faced with insurmountable pressure. But I do believe faith should at least be part of the equation. 

We all love the anonymous quote: “There is no greater demonstration of faith than a man planting seeds in a field.” Because all the factors outside of a farmer’s control rest in the hands of a higher power.

Farming can also be isolating. Chances are you’re not around many people during the day. It can be easy to retreat socially during busy seasons. When we do get together, it’s not popular to tell the friend group that we’re struggling mentally. When farmers hang around other farmers, it’s usually to talk about farming — not the mental stress they’re facing alongside the farming. 

Yet, it’s also common to hear people talk about how friendly the agricultural industry is — how neighborly we are. And it’s true. Farmers will help other farmers do just about anything. Check each other’s fields as they’re driving by, work on a pivot together, etc. So why not share each other’s mental burdens? 

There are resources for everyone when it comes to taking care of mental health. Telemedicine has made huge waves in rural health care availability. If you need a counselor, you can download an app on your phone, pick one and do a session right from the tractor if you wanted to. 

But wouldn’t it mean more if you could talk to someone who knows what you’re going through? Who is living it with you? Sometimes a good vent session is the healthiest thing you can do.

And while we’re being neighborly, let’s look out for each other. Check in with one another if you feel a friend has retreated mentally and/or physically. Because like it or not, the rate of suicide among farmers is 3.5 times higher than the general population. It’s an issue and we need to be observant. 

And when it comes to observation, it’s typically not the ‘complainers’ you need to worry about. 

It’s the ones who have stopped talking. 

Let’s all do our part to keep the conversation going. Don’t dismiss mental health. It’s vital to our success both as farmers and human beings. 

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USDA Releases Planted Acreage Report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its most recent planted acreage estimate June 30, 2023.

According to NASS, total cotton planted area for 2023 is estimated at 11.1 million acres, down 19% from last year. Upland area is estimated at 11 million acres, down 19% from 2022. American Pima area is estimated at 109,000 acres, down 40% from 2022. 

Upland cotton planted acres for Texas are estimated to be 6.1 million acres, down from 7.8 million in 2022, but on par with the state’s historical average. 

“Based on Texas’ planted acres estimate — although there are still several variables in play — the High Plains region acreage could see between 3.2 and 3.5 million acres, which is on track with our historical average planted acres,” said Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. 

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Cotton Industry Seeks Volunteer Leaders

The success of the High Plains cotton industry, like any group effort, is tied to the willingness of qualified individuals to volunteer to serve in various leadership positions. 

PCG encourages all qualified producers interested in representing the Texas High Plains as a representative to the Cotton Board, National Cotton Council or Cotton Incorporated to call the PCG office for more information: 806-792-4904.

Qualified producer nominees should be actively engaged in the production of cotton at the time of nomination. 

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June 23, 2023

Welcome to the June 23, 2023 issue of Cotton News, a service provided by Plains Cotton Growers Inc. for the cotton industry in the Texas High Plains and beyond.

Dryland field in Petersburg, Texas (Hale County).

Texas High Plains Crop Conditions — Need Another Rain

Mid-May, PCG’s reporting focused primarily on the necessity of drought relief. By the end of May, fields in certain areas of PCG’s 42 counties were flooding and planting was delayed. On June 9,

2023, we were concerned about heat units and the need for warmer temperatures. We saw temperatures come up to the high 90s for most of June 12 through the 16th. Now, with established stands and some squaring observations, we could use another rain. 

And we may just get one, if historical data is anything to go by. According to historical rain data for Lubbock, anytime May has recorded five or more inches of rain, there has typically been good precipitation through June and the rest of the growing season. Hopefully that will be the case this crop year. 

The cotton that did emerge and was not damaged by weather conditions has looked pretty good. “We have seen more uniform stands this year than we have in the past,” added Kody Bessent, PCG CEO. 

According to PCG Director of Field Services Mark Brown, the crop north of Plainview is suffering. Large storms, hail and tornadoes have hit the region hard. “We lost 1,400 more acres of cotton right after the Perryton tornado,” said Quentin Shieldknight, producer in Hansford County. 

Brown added that east of Lubbock, the situation is better. In his spot checks, Brown said he has seen cotton all over the board in terms of growth and development — from emergence to one true leaf all the way up to match-head squares. “If a producer has match-head squares in their field today, it’s more than likely they’ll have blooms by the July 15, which is pretty typical in a normal growing season,” Brown added.   

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Pest Management Report

While rain is always welcome, it does increase the insect pressure. Experts report thrip and grasshopper activity in fields, but what is most concerning are wireworms. Wireworms can be hard to find when scouting and can be hard to treat after the cotton has emerged. 

“We have product options with grasshoppers, fleahoppers and thrips, but once you plant, there’s nothing you can do to prevent wireworms,” said Suhas Vyavhare, Ph.D., extension entomologist.   

Shawn Holladay, producer in Dawson and Marting Counties said he’s seen more wireworms this year than he’s ever seen before. 

“We’ve learned a valuable lesson this year,” he added. “We won’t plant irrigated cotton that’s not seed treated again.” 

Vyavhare also said to be on the lookout for plant bugs now that plants are beginning to square.

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Hale County Goes to Amsterdam

Steve Olson, producer in Hale County, served as a panelist discussing regenerative agriculture at a cotton conference overseas.

“One thing that really stands out to me in these global experiences is how fortunate we are here in America,” Olson said. “There was a panelist from India that talked about the ability to finally purchase oxen to help him on the farm. There was also a woman discussing using her farm profits to put her children through school. It’s humbling to think about.” 

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Intern Perspective

Riley Gryder and Josiah Keck were named Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association summer interns in May.

By the end of the summer, Gryder will have worked with Adobe Walls Gin, Edcot Gin, Johnson Gin, LoneStar Gin and Top of Texas Gin.

Keck is working with Petersburg Co-op Gin and will finish his internship at Smith Gin Co-op in South Texas. 

Intern Story: Gryder

Riley Gryder

Originally published in TCGA’s “The Ginnery” newsletter.

With my first month as a TCGA intern coming to an end, I am proud to say that I have learned far more than I expected to. Assigned to Phillip Kidd at Edcot Gin in Edmonson, Texas, I have traveled around the Panhandle working alongside many great people such as Landon Kidd, Daniel Jenkins, Steven Birkenfeld, and Malcom Jones. Learning the ins and outs of ginning, I have toured and worked at three Windstar gins – Edcot Gin, Johnson Gin, and Top of Texas Gin.

My internship began with an extensive, hands-on tour of Edcot gin led by Landon Kidd. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to learn about trading seed, lint, and even got to tour BC Supply and MTS in Lubbock. The second week, I stayed in Turkey, Texas with a great host and manager – Daniel Jenkins. While traveling back and forth to the Johnson Gin in Silverton, I got to see how the caprock affects cotton growers in the area. With entirely different planting dates, it looks like this area might have a higher yield of cotton compared to the Caprock, which has had a tough season.

While at the Johnson Gin, I had the opportunity to work with Kevin Williams and learn what happens inside of gins to keep them running. Pulling wires and putting in new control panels was our main focus here at Johnson Gin, as well as Top of Texas Gin. Working under Malcom Jones, I was tasked to shadow a group of skilled electricians as we installed new module feeder and shaft monitoring control systems. While the job isn’t done, I plan to revisit Top of Texas Gin in the coming weeks, along with Adobe Walls Gin and Lonestar Gin in Pampa, Texas. Overall, I have had many great experiences with many great people. I have learned more in two weeks than most get to learn in a lifetime. I would like to thank Aaron Nelsen for giving me this opportunity and Phillip Kidd for organizing and allowing me to have these great opportunities. I cannot wait to learn more about cotton growing and ginning all over Texas.

Gryder is a mechanical engineering student at Texas Tech University.

Intern Story: Keck

Josiah Keck

Originally published in TCGA’s “The Ginnery” newsletter.

I have been working for Myles Ramsey, manager of Petersburg CO-OP Gin, for the first half of my internship. I have been learning the process of cotton ginning from Mr. Ramsey. The first week I helped take apart augers in the distributor. Next, I took apart the hangers which are attached to the augers. I cleaned and replaced chains around the sprockets and checked for any damage around the drive shaft, sprocket, and ball bearings. Later that same week, I helped one of my co-workers clean out and replace the gin stand saws. Mr. Ramsey also took me on several tours. We toured PYCO, RAM Manufacturing, and where the cotton samples go to be graded. PYCO was one of the most fascinating to me. PYCO is where the cotton seed, after being ginned, goes to be made into cottonseed oil. There I learned about the process of how a cotton seed is turned into oil. What was very fascinating to me was the lint around the cotton seed. PYCO has three cleaning processes of taking the lint off the seed, they later turn the lint into bales. One of the coolest facts I learned from the lint is that Samsung buys some of this lint to make their devices. During my time at Petersburg Cotton Gin, I have been asking lots of questions about the sales side of cotton. I talked to one of the PCCA workers and learned about the pool and grades of cotton. PCCA buys portions of cotton to add to their pool. The pool helps get more leverage in the cotton market.

The first part of my internship was a blast! I have learned a lot from Mr. Ramsey, and I appreciated the time he has put into teaching me the ins and outs of the cotton gin. In the second part of my internship, I will be working for Smith Gin Co-op in Odem Texas. I am very excited to also get to see how the gins are run during the season.

Keck is an agricultural systems management student at Texas A&M University.

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